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Now I have a Machine Gun. HO-HO-HO

Pictured Above: Yet another casualty falls to Seasonal Affective Disorder

In certain circles, Die Hard is celebrated not as the perennial action flick we all know and love, but as a cherished Christmas tradition. Many argue its intentional choice of setting during the Christmas season elevates the film beyond its action tropes. But could this be? In this light, a once evergreen message of violence and gore in the face of villainy would becomes a heart-warming tale of a man reuniting with his family for the holidays.

"But that isn't the point of Die Hard," you say.

"Shut up this is my article," I say.

The push to include Die Hard in the pantheon of Christmas classics isn't without controversy. The type of individual arguing so strongly for its holiday inclusion is the same person who points out semantic pedantry at the expense of everyone else's fun. See below.

This is all our faults, guys. We created this monster. This is why scientists aren't supposed to be cool.

In preparation for this magnum opus of an article I found these types littered across the vast wastes of the interwebs.

"Great list of the best Christmas movies. But didn't you forget DIE HARD? It's a Christmas movie too ya know?" they would say, typing furiously in comment sections.

Despite its origins in nitpicking dogmatism, there exists a legitimate case to be made for Die Hard to stand with the likes of Christmas Vacation, It's a Wonderful Life (Which really ISN'T a Christmas movie. We'll discuss that later), and Miracle on 34th Street as required viewing each holiday season.

The Rules
Like all great holiday specials, a Christmas film must use the holiday, in and of itself, to propel the plot forward. Set pieces or backgrounds including Christmas themes or decorations a holiday special do not make.

Such "official" Christmas movies must make extensive and continuous reference to the Christmas holiday (and all its parts therein), display a consciousness of the impending season in its character's conversations, and ultimately resolve with a clearly established Christmas value or obvious seasonal trope.

For such a field test on all the aforementioned Christmas metrics, we can look to one of film's greatest Christmas mislabellings in It's A Wonderful Life, 

While clearly a masterpiece of storytelling and film-making, IAWL simply uses Christmas as a convenient set piece, not a necessary catalyst for its story arch. The holiday's inclusion at all, at least plot-wise, seems only to serve as a justification for some of the more emotional elements of its story. The tremendous get-together of friends and family at the Bailey home that ushers in the film's close is one such instance.

Such a gathering, including George's brother travelling from afar, would feel completely contrived without the inclusion of Christmas as its impetus. While it may appear to spur the plot forward, Christmas in this case serves as a crutch for what would otherwise have been poor or unrealistic writing.

Jimmy Stewart: Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn about Christmas

Going back to the beginning of the film, George considering suicide on Christmas Eve is merely a coincidence given the circumstances and conflict of the movie. He could have come to his depressing conclusions in any time of the year. Further, Through the use of flashbacks, and even going so far as to check the run-time, nearly 85 percent of the movie makes no mention of Christmas whatsoever. 

If you're still unconvinced, here's the director, Frank Capra himself who was quoted as saying, "I didn't even think of it as a Christmas story when I first ran across it. I just liked the idea."  

Having shown an "accepted" Christmas film is really just a drama using the Christmas season for narrative convenience, let's take a look at Die Hard.

Now I Have a Machine Gun. HO-HO-HO

To begin, we know at the movie's opening John McClane, a New York City cop, is visiting his wife and children for Christmas. Having been estranged for a time due to different career choices, the audience can see implicitly that John hopes to use the holiday as a chance to make amends with his wife and rejoin his family.

1. Uses Christmas to propel plot forward check

Arriving in town, John is driven by his amiable limousine chauffeur, Argyle, to a Christmas party being thrown by his wife's company. Along the way, the two discuss John's struggling marriage, culminating in the timeless Christmas classic, "Christmas in Hollis" by Run DMC, playing on the radio.

Argyle: This IS Christmas music!

Takagi: I didn't realize Mr. Die Hard was such a bigot. 


2. Makes extensive and continuous reference to the Christmas holiday, and all its parts therein check

Oh wait, did I mention that one hacker guy says Merry Christmas when they finally get the vault open?

See??? Told you!

With just two down I can feel this article beginning to fizzle out as I come stumbling toward the finish line. Could I have so completely obliterated any argument against Die Hard's clear Christmas film inclusion? Possibly.

But it wouldn't be complete without the final rule.

As the film comes to its climax, many dead terrorists lie in John McClane's bloody-footed wake. He's shot, blown up, smoked cigs, and been an all-around bad ass thus far, but he still hasn't reunited with his family for Christmas.

So to really ring in the Christmas spirit, John blows the head terrorist out of the building. Hans falls to his death seemingly signalling the end of the movie.

Happy trails, Alan Rickman :(

But that isn't before Carl Winslow overcomes his fear of using his gun and blows away the somehow still alive other dead terrorist. The film ends with John getting his wife back because she finds him sexy again because he did all that shooting and macho stuff.

3. Resolves with a clearly established Christmas value or obvious seasonal trope. That's a big fat check

A very merry Christmas and a Yippee-ki-yaymotherfucker to all of you.



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